The Next Chapter

Neema on the prizewinning novel she couldn't get out of her mind

The Montreal singer-songwriter talks about the pleasure of reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Neema's latest album is Painting the Wall Gold. (Lorca Cohen)

Neema is a singer-songwriter from Montreal. She recently read Jeffrey Eugenides' Pulitzer Prize–winning 2002 novel Middlesex. In her own words, here's why she loved it.

I just finished reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. It's about a hermaphrodite who spends the first 16 years of her life as a girl and then, while going through puberty, realizes that he's actually a boy. It grips you right away and then it takes you back two generations to his grandparents in Greece, explaining why this happened. It has to do with a gene mutation — his grandparents were actually sister and brother — but it explains the whole story in a really wonderful way. It's very funny. You get to know his grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty, and why they had to flee because of the war with Turkey and how they ended up marrying each other, which seems completely normal in the situation. And then you go to his parents and their story, and through this you're always going back to the present and hearing a little bit about what it's like to be in Callie or Cal's skin. It's a very captivating novel — I have a 19-month-old son and not much time to read, and this story just lived in my mind. I kept wanting to pick it up again. 

Neema's comments have been edited and condensed.